Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19): Find out more about RSL LifeCare services. Read more
What is RSL Life Care? Find out
October 08, 2019

Revisiting value

Doing the cancan, singing folk songs, dancing to Elvis, and performing theatrical scenes … all in a morning’s work for Elder Clown Bonnie.

When 90-year-old Maggie finished the cancan with Bonnie they were given great applause from the other members of the group.

She was one of 12-older people from RSL LifeCare Narrabeen taking part in an Elder Clown trial, measuring the benefits of play and music and dance presented to dementia residents by a professional clown.

Following her cancan, the smile on Maggie’s face spoke volumes.

It was held at the War Vets’ Therapy Lifestyle Centre, in the room adjacent to where the television documentary Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds was filmed.

I remember once hugging a gentleman who broke down in tears, he told me that it had been ‘so long’ since anyone had hugged him. Some of these older people might go for days without anyone even touching them.

– Elder Clown Bonnie

Bonnie has been an Elder Clown for nearly three years and said the organisation was all about building rapport, making connections and having fun.

“So that people feel valued, heard and respected,” she said. “It’s about seeing them see their value again, recognising they are important.”

On another occasion during this variety show, the oldies became a veritable seated flash mob, singing an old Irish folk song, a cappella.

Bonnie, a former Clown Doctor, believed that music could produce some of the same outcomes as touch.

“I remember once hugging a gentleman who broke down in tears,” she said. “He told me that it had been ‘so long’ since anyone had hugged him. Some of these older people might go for days without anyone even touching them.”

Also during the War Vets session, Bonnie reached into her trolley and produced a hand-held pump to which she attached an empty balloon. She then pumped air inside and made a balloon koala which hugged a balloon tree.

Later on however, she politely declined an invitation to produce a balloon octopus!

She said she wore the clown nose and the same dress to every session. “The connections made are remarkable,” she said. “The red nose is a licence to play.

“Elder Clowns provide empowerment, value and reminiscence.  Just because you’re at the end of your life doesn’t mean these things aren’t important anymore.”

She believed Western society no longer attributed value in the lives of its eldest citizens. “At best we refer to a ‘cute granny’ as opposed to ‘a greatly respected grandmother’,” she said.

Therapy Lifestyle Centre manager Heidi Roland Kenn said the sessions were also very important respite for carers. “The program allows for the partner or relatives to know their loved one is in a stimulating environment,” she said.

“They are not just being parked in a room in front of a TV.”

Mrs Roland Kenn said the program was being overviewed by an occupational therapist.

“There is an assessment scale for alertness and engagement,” she said. “It was measured the week before Bonnie started, and will be repeated when the trial has finished.”

 

Story By Rod Bennett

Blog Posts

Help for Vets in Need

Veterans’ Services

Find out more

Latest News

array(2) { [0]=> int(175) [1]=> int(41) }

A lifetime of service acknowledged – Shirley McLaren (née Lemon) 

Eighty-eight-year-old Women's Royal Australian Air Force (WRAAF) veteran Shirley McLaren (née Lemon) and resident of RSL ANZAC Village, Narrabeen, has been awarded an Air Force Gold Commendation for superior...

Read more

Love and Dementia

We want to say a huge thank you to our resident Bob Cardiff, who has and continues to be a huge advocate of supporting dementia....

Read more

Rod Kingham

Driver, Australian Army "My Dad had been in the Somme and he used to go to Anzac Day so we were an army family."  ...

Read more

Thelma ‘Shirley’ Grinyer

Nurse, Australian Army Medical Women’s Service “Most of our patients were servicemen, and they were the best patients you could find"   Shirley was an...

Read more

Dorothy ‘Topsy’ Curtis

Private, Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) “You have to protect your country and your families. If it happened again, I would have to join up...

Read more

Richard (Dick) Udy

Dick Udy couldn’t wait to enlist when war was declared in 1939. His sense of adventure was eventually fulfilled as a wireless operator onboard the...

Read more

Victory in the Pacific – 75 years since the end of World War II

RSL LifeCare has been capturing the memories of our war veterans for many years as a way of honouring our residents’ individual service. This VP...

Read more

Dot Curtis, featured on 7 News in commemoration of Victory in the Pacific

#OneInAMillion our very own resident, Dot Curtis, resident of Connie Fall in Narrabeen, featured on 7 News in commemoration of Victory in the Pacific on...

Read more

RSL DefenceCare finds a new home

A FREE-of-charge service helping Australian veterans and their families in times of injury, illness or crisis, is transferring operations from RSL NSW to RSL LifeCare...

Read more

ANZAC Day – We Did Remember Them

ANZAC Day is one of the most important days of the year in the RSL LifeCare calendar. Despite restrictions and social distancing requirements, due to...

Read more

Joshua Manning and Homes for Heroes

Media Release Joshua Manning was a Clearance Diver in the Royal Australian Navy for 13 years. His passing on 7 October 2019 deeply saddened RSL...

Read more

Old Peoples Home for Four Year Olds continues to create buzz….

Read page 78 in Fusion Magazine......  

Read more

Download a brochure

We'll never share your email address and you can opt out at any time, we promise

Career Application Single

  • Accepted file types: docx, doc, pdf.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.